Strong words abuzz all around as the pros and cons, rights and wrongs, the good and the bad and what not, ever since the Special Court announced death sentence for the former President and Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf. ‘Abrogation’, ‘subversion’, the meaning of which may escape a simple mind of a common man too worried about how the food will be cooked amid serious gas load shedding. This obviously does not include the nearly 40% population of Pakistan which lives in abject poverty for whom, three meals a day is a dream.
Coming back to the terms, ‘abrogate’ (to do away with), and ‘subvert’ (undermine or erode the power and authority), it is perplexing and may send one in a hunt for some buried treasure which is yet to be found even after more than 70 decades of existence of Pakistan.
‘Wherein the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice, as enunciated by Islam, shall be fully observed’ is stated in the preamble of the Constitution of Pakistan. It goes on to mention ‘Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights, including equality of status, of opportunity and before lay, social, economic and political justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship and association, subject to lay and public morality’. There you have it. A few more buzz words, reflecting upon values that may be held dear, at least on paper.
The history of Pakistan, by democratic or undemocratic powers, is so tainted that volumes can be written on how the reality at ground is far from just those few statements quoted from preamble of the Constitution. Without venturing into too far past, just observe the past few days and review the incidents involving Lawyers, Doctors and Punjab Institute of Cardiology. A fine example of fundamental rights, equality, justice, etc. Was the Constitution valid and applicable to those who lost their lives? If you are not a part of the armed forces, are not a lawyer, a journalist or any other such, how equal do you feel? Or are we to believe that some are just more equal than others?
Article 4 provides for the right of individual to be dealt with in accordance with Law, etc. Under this article, each individual Pakistani is to enjoy protection of law and to be treated in accordance with law is the inalienable right of every citizen. The article goes on to explain that no action detrimental to the live, liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law. A notion farfetched, perhaps only in dreams. Try registering and FIR to begin with, and if so successful, may there be protection against the actions of those who are there to protect. To what extent is this right provided for the commoners is another story altogether. Add to this the crimes perpetuated by the protectors themselves. So, is this abrogation or subversion of constitution?
Article 10 A talks about the rights to fair trial including that for determining civil rights. Fair trial and due process, a fairytale indeed. The inviolability of dignity of man, etc., detailed in articles 14. Is the dignity of a common man actually inviolable? There are endless examples of commoners being treated like scum. It just takes anyone, just anyone with an iota of authority to tell you your worth. Article 15, Freedom of movement, 19, Freedom of speech, 25, Equality of citizens, to state more specifically, ‘All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law’, Right to education, 37, Promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils, 38, Promotion of social and economic well being of the people, and the list goes on.
It is amazing to read all the rights that a citizen of Pakistan enjoys. However, the ground that is inhabited reflects upon the mirror image of what is stated in black and white, to the extent that it is a curse to be a commoner with absolutely no rights whatsoever. It is almost as if the Constitution of Pakistan lists down all the rights which those in power need to ensure are to be subverted instead of being provide for.
Any constitution, as well documented as it may be, is a worthless piece of paper unless adopted in letter and spirit. For a common Pakistani, the promises in the Constitution of Pakistan leads to Wonderland of a yellow brick road. Alas, such lands are in fairytales only. Hence, the question. How can something which is non-existing in its sprite be subverted or abrogated?
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